Estimated life-history traits and movements of the Caribbean reef shark in The Bahamas

Published on
04 April 2022

Estimated life-history traits and movements of the Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) in The Bahamas based on tag-recapture data

Brendan S. Talwar, Darcy Bradley, Christopher Berry, Mark E. Bond, Ian A. Bouyoucos, Annabelle M. L. Brooks, Candace Y. A. Fields, Austin J. Gallagher, Tristan L. Guttridge, Annie E. Guttridge, Neil Hammerschlag, Ian Hamilton, Bryan A. Keller, Steven T. Kessel, Philip Matich, Owen R. O’Shea, Yannis P. Papastamatiou, Cameron Raguse, Eric V. C. Schneider, Oliver N. Shipley, Matthew J. Smukall, Maurits P. M. van Zinnicq Bergmann & Edward J. Brooks


The Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) is an economically important species in The Bahamas, where it is protected from fishing and is a mainstay for the shark dive tourism industry. Significant declines in abundance are suspected throughout much of its range, making the study of its life history and spatial ecology important for effective fisheries management and conservation planning. We used tag-recapture data collected in The Bahamas between 2008 and 2020 to investigate the species’ linear movements, population characteristics, life history, and growth. Sharks moved little between tag and recapture events (range: 0 to 8 km) despite multiple years at liberty for many sharks (range: 2 days to 7.1 years). We found no evidence of seasonal migration. We used a combined-sex von Bertalanffy growth function to estimate an asymptotic mean length at age (TL) of 205.8 cm total length and a growth coefficient (k) of 0.06. Theoretical maximum longevity was 43.3 to 57.8 years. Median male length at maturity (L50) was 148.9 cm total length (95% CI: 146.1–151.5 cm), which likely occurs around 14.8 years of age. Our results indicate slower growth of the Caribbean reef shark in The Bahamas than previously estimated in Venezuela. Our results suggest the Caribbean reef shark may be more vulnerable to overfishing and extirpation at the northern extent of its range than previously considered and that large no-take areas may be an effective conservation tool for this species.

Mar Biol 169, 55 (2022). DOI: 10.1007/s00227-022-04044-9


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